GLOBAL stock markets crashed on Thursday, the biggest single day fall in history. This is the historic crisis of capitalism, its death agony. The coronavirus has exposed the inherent weakness of the system, a system drowning in debt where trillions of pieces of paper have been masquerading as value and all the bosses’ and bankers’ chickens have now come home to roost.
The entire system has gone, and no amount of rate cuts, quantitative easing or ultra low interest rates or even negative interest rates can save capitalism now from its crisis. The scene has been set for the class struggle to be fought out to a finish, and the working class taking the power.
This crash has created the conditions where all over the world millions of workers’ jobs are under threat, particularly in the UK, where the economy has gone to the wall. Coronavirus has set the scene for this.
And what has emerged in Britain is that the government will do anything and everything possible to try and save capitalism, while telling workers that deaths in their families are inevitable and will just have to be endured.
Tory PM Johnson, in an address to the nation, said: ‘It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.’
However, in the same breath he said there was no need to close schools at the moment – as the Republic of Ireland did just hours earlier – and that public gatherings will go ahead.
This was a step too far for even the arch-Tory ex-health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who questioned why public events have been given the green light, when the warning light on every dashboard in the world is flashing red.
As far as the Tories are concerned, it is tax cuts for all types of businesses, while they wash their hands of any responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the general public, leaving them to their fate. Johnson has made his position crystal clear: containment has been abandoned, the spread of the virus has become an inevitability and the working class and the health of its families must pay the price.
Under these conditions the trade unions must take action.
All closures of factories must be met with occupations. Industries which are collapsing must be immediately nationalised. If they can find billions to prop up capitalism, then there must be no loss of pay for the working class.
Look at China. They have been able to deal with this crisis and push the virus back. They shut industry and production down, and imposed a quarantine. No workers starved, no workers lost pay.
What this government is planning to do is expel workers from the factories, with no pay, and minimal, if any, sick pay, while leaving them and their families to suffer the virus, and let nature take its course.
Over a decade of vicious Tory cuts to the NHS, the mass closure of hospital beds, of A&Es, maternities, children’s wards, the axing of the student nurses’ and midwives’ bursaries, the attack led by Hunt on the junior doctors, all of these have seriously impaired the NHS’ ability to deal with coronavirus.
On Thursday, it was announced that extremely sick patients infected with the deadly coronavirus are to be treated on open wards, as opposed to being treated in Intensive Care Units (ICU), where they would be isolated in single rooms. This is because of a severe lack of ICUs and beds.
Doctors have rightly warned that not only is this dangerous for the patient, but risks spreading the virus and causing even more deaths. So the Tory plan means: warehouse the sick, let them infect each other and die, while protecting big business, the banks and the bosses at all costs.
There can be no two ways about it, the trade unions must demand that workers will not lose a penny in pay. If that means shutting industry and production down for two weeks to defeat the virus, then every single worker must receive full pay.
The government position, that workers and their families are going to have to put up with deaths in their families, while they stop at nothing to bail out the capitalist class, must mark the end of this Tory government.
Trade unions must organise a general strike and there will be no better day than March 17, when over 90% of postal workers are expected to vote ‘YES’ for a nationwide strike. The Tories are expected to drag the CWU to the High Court to rule their strike illegal again. This must be the signal for the trade unions to call a general strike to bring down the Tories, and bring in a workers government that will go forward to socialism!